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What is envisaged in the RA Government Program with the perspective of women’s empowerment

As already known, on June 22 the RA National Assembly approved the 2017-2022 RA Government Program with 64 MPs voting for the approval, 31 against it and 0 MPs abstaining from any votes. Karen Karapetyan, the RA Prime Minister called the Program a document that “changes the quality of life in Armenia”. The “Yelk” and “Tsarukyan” political fractions voted against the approval of the Program. The Republican and Dashnaktsutyun fractions highlighted that the Program was constructive and provides solutions to all issues hence moving the country to a better stage of development. They particularly outlined the fact that the Program was largely based on the electoral programs, of the Republican and Dashnaktsutyun Parties, the Coalition Memorandum and progressive ideas highly resonating with the wider Armenian public.

 

The WomenNet.am  performed a review of the RA Government’s new Program to identify what outcomes and measures it envisaged towards the promotion of women’s rights and opportunities in Armenia. It was of particular concern to find out how the Program integrated the list of questions on Women’s Agenda in Armenia drafted and presented to all political parties of the National Assembly within the “EQUAL” Campaign.

 

It is worth mentioning that few notes outlining women’s issues were included in the “Labour and Social Policy” Chapter of the Program. The Chapter also includes the most important provision related to mainstreaming gender in all socio-economic programs quoted below:

 

… “to introduce gender component in all RA socio-economic development programs and employ monitoring tools of context assessment by end of 2022 for ensuring enhanced equality of rights and opportunities of men and women”.

 

However, without any objective explanation, this statement was included as the 10th provision of Article 3 worded as “By putting the principles of ‘every child shall grow in a family’ as a basis for all child protection reforms, the RA Government anticipates that …”. It is anyway obvious that gender mainstreaming of socio-economic programs is a larger issue and has no direct link with child protection issues.

 

The same Article 3 also defines that

 

“during 2018-2021 define criteria for complex service provision to persons that were subject to domestic violence and extend the range of services”

 

 At the same time, the Program makes no mention of the adoption of the Law on Domestic Violence, although the Government has already prepared the draft Law.

 

In other important provisions of the “Labour and Social Policy” Chapter that relate to the “ensuring of due conditions for dignified employment rights”, no issues of women’s employment are found.   The creation of conditions that will support women in combining family and workplace obligations is not even envisaged in the context of a long-term strategy towards improving the RA demography, although the Government sees that approach as one of the prerequisities for boosting the birth rate in the country.

 

Women are touched upon in the “Defence” Chapter, where the Government aims to implement the “Nation – Army” Concept and hence envisages that

 

…”by end of 2020 ensure the participation of every citizen liable to army service to the RA defence through strengthening the principle of fairness in the army recruitment system, and enhance opportunities for women that want to serve in the army voluntarily, thus considering the army service as a favourable opportunity for education and professional development”.

 

By the way, this provision was the only one referring to women in the previous 2016 RA Government Program presented by Karen Karapetyan’s Cabinet.

 

Overall, the 2017-2022 RA Government Program cannot be called a gender-sensitive document, except a few provisions. Probably that is the reason why the Committee on Equal rights and opportunities by the Prime Minister never convened for a meeting to date after Karen Karapetyan’s assignment to the post. Respectively, we can assume that gender policies and respective issues were not presented to the Prime Minister and duly discussed. We should also mention that ‘the promotion of de facto equality between men and women” is defined Article 86 of the RA Constitution in line with the main objectives of Government policies. This means the Government cannot in any way ignore it.

 

 

 

 

 

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